Writing in the Dubai daily, Khaleej Times, Stuart Littlewood, author of the book Radio Free Palestine, praises Hamas while heavily criticizing Israel and implicitly comparing it to the Nazis:
I often wonder if the British could have clung on through the London blitz, … if they’d had nothing to fight with and … Nazi tanks in the streets, … checkpoints, Nazi rifle butts smashing down their front doors, and … Nazi storm-troopers in their jackboots ransacking their homes and dragging off family members. Palestinians have been put through that sort of mangle for decades…Hamas must do (within chosen limits, of course) whatever it takes to abolish its sinister image and make the rest of the world feel comfortable. It must erase its ‘terrorist’ reputation, whether justified or not. It must re-brand, open the door and make itself more approachable.
Littlewood’s article is a good example of what the Reut Institute terms the ‘clash of brands’ – Israel being branded an aggressor while its enemies are branded as peaceful social movements.
The ability to delegitimize Israel is rooted in successful efforts to brand it as an occupying and aggressive entity, which is carried out by comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany. These comparisons justify similar conduct in terms of exclusion, boycott, and condemnation, and also promote a solution in accordance with the ‘one man, one vote’ principle. Moreover, branding Israel in this way, facilitates the believability of rumors as false as organ harvesting in Haiti and justifies aggressive action against Israel or Israelis. At the same time, Hamas and the Resistance Network have been able to brand themselves as peaceful social movements that stand up against oppression. The Delegitimization Network meanwhile, has succeeded in associating itself with protection of human rights, respect for international law, and an aspiration for peace and justice.
The Gaza Flotilla provides an effective example of how potent this branding has become. The clash at sea between the IDF and the Mavi Marmura was also a clash of three brands. Israel’s which had been effectively associated with belligerence and a disregard for international law; Hamas’, which has been identified with social activism and resistance to the occupation; and the Delegitimization Network’s, which has been associated with the concern for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In this context, Israel had no chance of ‘winning’ regardless of the facts of what actually happened.
Therefore, re-branding Israel and changing the values associated with it is critically important to fighting delegitimization.